PORT ARTHUR —
Last Wednesday, the Memorial High School sponsored a community-wide pep rally in recognition of the 2013 Homecoming football game. On behalf of the Port Arthur Independent School District Board of Trustees and me, we want to thank our entire community for such an outstanding response. We would also like to thank the city for allowing us to utilize the city park and the preparation done by city employees. As we looked down the parade route and during the actual pep rally, we believe that there were at least a couple of thousand citizens who came out in support of our children. Infants, grade school, young adults, middle age and the elderly were all in attendance. It was a great feeling to have the citizens of Port Arthur united together in harmony.
As I think about the number of people in attendance, I reflect on the conversation and laughter that was evident and the unity of our community. At a point in the activities, I wondered what our students were thinking about all of this. I asked some of the children their thoughts and impressions about the pep rally and the fact that so many people were coming out in support of them. Some responses were, “It was fun,” and, “are e going to beat that team.” Some said we needed to do this every week, some just smiled and said, “I don’t know,” but I could see in their faces that they were happy. Every adult I spoke with was in a positive mood and was happy to be in attendance.
One of the results of that one event was a sense of unity. I am sure within that timeframe of 5 pm and about 7:30 pm, children who attended the event felt supported because everyone applauded the students and were in support of their activities. They felt safe; all eyes were on the students and we were not going to allow anything to stop their recognition and celebration. The adults planned and made sure that everything was in place for the success of an event that highlighted the children in our community. The adults were happy and in one accord, and that trickled down to the children and our children proved that they were appreciative in the way they behaved and performed for the audience. That one event that happened on Wednesday, Oct. 9, between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. solidified in my mind that we know what to do. The pep rally was the event that brought us together, but the environment and the feeling of pride will remain. Would not it be great if we could come together in that way every time that there was a PTA meeting or Title I parent involvement meeting, or have 100 percent attendance for our parent-teacher conferences that will be held on Oct. 16-18 in our elementary schools? I am sure that the feelings that our students experienced as we rallied around them is one that will stick in their minds for a long time. Will they talk about it for weeks? Maybe not, but the experience will be in their hearts for years to come and that one experience will change the way some of our children think, behave at school, at home, and even in public for a long time.
The PAISD needs the citizens of Port Arthur to support us as we move into the implementation of House Bill 5. There are many aspects of the bill that involve the entire community and especially our parents. We need every citizen to be as engaged in the academics of our children as they were during the pep rally last Wednesday. As we start to draw the map of how we are going to ensure that every child is successful in the PAISD, we need you to be aware of what is going on and be able to support the plan. As you communicate with children within our community, we need you to be familiar with and understand the laws that we are governed by. Community and parent involvement are critical to our success.
On Nov. 12, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in room C400 of the Administration Building, we invite our community to come out and hear what House Bill 5 means to the future of our children and the plan we have to implement the bill. We invite you to come and talk with us about how we can partner together in an effort to meet the needs of all children in our district. We cannot be successful without you.
“Through the eyes of a child:” I wonder what goes through their minds when they see that we are all on the same page when it comes to their success. When they see that the home and the school are working together and that they are placing their welfare first? Our children can see and they are smart enough to rationalize the truth of what is happening around them. We cannot and will not let our children down.
Mark Porterie is the Superintendent of Schools for Port Arthur Independent School District.